Michael Botticelli received unanimous Senate approval on Monday to head the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP).
Botticelli has served as acting head of the agency since March.
He has spoken publicly about being in long-term recovery, the Associated Press reports.
He struggled with alcohol abuse and was arrested for drunk driving in 1988, the article notes.
"There are millions of people in recovery in the United States leading meaningful, productive lives full of joy and love and laughter – and I am one of them," Botticelli said in a statement after his Senate confirmation. He said the confirmation "is an honor I never dreamed of 26 years ago, when my substance use disorder had become so acute that I was handcuffed to a hospital bed. I accept this challenge with the humility and tenacity of someone in long-term recovery."
Before being named Acting Director of ONDCP, Botticelli was Deputy Director. He pledged to continue a "science-based drug policy" that emphasizes treatment instead of arrest.
In October, Botticelli said the national trend toward legalizing marijuana is impeding the fight against prescription drug abuse. He said one in nine people who use marijuana will become addicted to the drug. He noted early use of marijuana increases the risk a person will develop dependency on other drugs, including prescription painkillers and heroin.